Enigmatic Egypt: The Promised Land

Whilst wandering through the parched academic desert that smothers the Levant it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Egypt is the Promised Land where the Settled Science flows so freely it’s difficult to find the insights amongst all the academic mirages.

One of the more distorted academic mirages is the land of Egypt and its host continent.

Sometimes it’s served up as a compressed flat pack burger.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/dallas-abbott-adventures-in-avalon/

Occasionally it’s served up as part of a self-serving smorgasbord.

But mostly it’s served up on a sliding plate that’s suitable for any academic occasion.

See: https://youtu.be/LIAkJg8knTI

The above incarnation of the slowly sliding plate scenario gets a few brownie points for mentioning the Tethys Sea but singularly fails when it comes to the most basic kindergarten reality checks.

One of the more significant distortions of these academic mirages is their failure to account for the dazzling chalk remnants of the Egyptian Sea in the Farafra Depression.

The Farafra depression is the second biggest depression by size in Western Egypt and the smallest by population, near latitude 27.06° north and longitude 27.97° east.

A main geographic attraction of Farafra is its White Desert (known as Sahara el Beyda, with the word sahara meaning a desert) – a national park of Egypt and 45 km (28 mi) north of the town of Farafra, the main draw of which is its rock type colored from snow-white to cream.

It has massive chalk rock formations that are textbook examples of ventifact and which have been created as a result of occasional sandstorm in the area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Desert

Chalk is a soft, white, porous, sedimentary carbonate rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite.

Calcite is an ionic salt called calcium carbonate or CaCO3.

It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite shells (coccoliths) shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk_rock

https://archive.org/stream/inventory_201705/inventory#page/n12/mode/1up

The draining of the Egyptian Sea was probably facilitated by the opening of the Red Sea Rift and the land subsidence caused by the Eastern Mediterranean Dome Collapse.

The Red Sea Rift is a spreading center between two tectonic plates, the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It extends from the Dead Sea Transform fault system, and ends at an intersection with the Aden Ridge and the East African Rift, forming the Afar Triple Junction in the Afar Depression of the Horn of Africa.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sea_Rift

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260549447_Modeling_storm_surges_in_the_Mediterranean_Sea_under_the_A1B_climate_scenario

The evidence indicates the draining of the Egyptian Sea into the Mediterranean Basin radically altered the Egyptian landscape and it’s climate.

http://whc.unesco.org/uploads/nominations/1186.pdf

There are two theories about the age of the integrated Nile.

One is that the integrated drainage of the Nile is of young age, and that the Nile basin was formerly broken into series of separate basins, only the most northerly of which fed a river following the present course of the Nile in Egypt and Sudan.

Rushdi Said postulated that Egypt itself supplied most of the waters of the Nile during the early part of its history.

The other theory is that the drainage from Ethiopia via rivers equivalent to the Blue Nile and the Atbara and Takazze flowed to the Mediterranean via the Egyptian Nile since well back into Tertiary times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile#History

A legacy of the Egyptian Sea in the Western Desert are the “high saline levels”.

The essential problem is that the Western Desert’s high saline levels and the presence of underground aquifers in the area act as a major hindrance to any irrigation project.

As the land is irrigated, the salt would mix with the aquifers and would reduce access to potable water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Valley_Project

The “high saline levels” suggest the draining of the Egyptian Sea into the Mediterranean Basin left behind lakes and pools which became increasingly saline as the waters evaporated.

However, the groundwater originating from the underlying Nubian Aquifer System has been praised for it’s “extraordinary freshness” i.e. “total salts amounted to only 1.35%”.

The phenomenon of the extraordinary freshness of the water of the Birket el Quriin has been commented on by Schweinfurth, who shows that the degree of concentration of salt in a lake whose volume has been continually reduced, and to which salt has constantly been added, should be many times greater than the actual existing amount.

An analysis of the water at the west end of the lake (where the concentration is greatest, owing to the distance from the feeder canals) showed that the total salts amounted to only 1.35% of which 0.92% was sodium chloride.

Dr. Schweinfurth concludes that the lake has a subterranean outlet, which alone would enable it to maintain its comparative freshness.

The Topography and Geology of the Fayum – Hugh John Llewellyn Beadnell – 1905
https://archive.org/stream/cu31924004049338#page/n25/mode/1up

Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of seawater and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms.

In its edible form of table salt, it is commonly used as a condiment and food preservative.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_chloride

https://www.nasa.gov/jpl/grace/study-third-of-big-groundwater-basins-in-distress

The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) is the world’s largest known fossil water aquifer system.

It is located underground in the Eastern end of the Sahara Desert and spans the political boundaries of four countries in north-eastern Africa.

NSAS covers a land area spanning just over two million km2, including north-western Sudan, north-eastern Chad, south-eastern Libya, and most of Egypt.

Containing an estimated 150,000 km3 of groundwater, the significance of the NSAS as a potential water resource for future development programs in these countries is extraordinary.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nubian_Sandstone_Aquifer_System

http://web.archive.org/web/20030723113049/http://geosys.bg.tu-berlin.de/archiv/downloads/NAS_syn.pdf

But the Western Desert groundwater has acquired a reputation for being “highly corrosive” since “modern well-drilling techniques” and steel well casings were introduced in the 20th century.

The discovery that ground waters of Egypt’s Western Desert are highly corrosive is lost in antiquity.

Inhabitants of the oases have been aware of the troublesome property for many decades and early investigators mention it in their reports concerning the area.

Introduction of modern well-drilling techniques and replacements of native wood casing with steel during the 20th century increased corrosion problems and, in what is called the New Valley Project, led to an intense search for causes and corrective treatments.

This revealed that extreme corrosiveness results from combined effects of relatively acidic waters with significant concentrations of destructive sulfide ion; unfavorable ratios of sulfate and chloride to less aggressive ions; mineral equilibria and electrode potential which hinder formation of protective films; relative high chemical reaction rates because of abnormal temperatures, and high surface velocities related to well design.

The Corrosive Well Waters of Egypt’s Western Desert – Frank E. Clarke – 1979
Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1757-O

https://pubs.usgs.gov/wsp/1757o/report.pdf

At this juncture the Settled Science of groundwater becomes wobbly.

On the one hand:

Settled Science imposes an academic construct that “proves” all groundwater is a renewable resource fed by rainfall. This wondrous Settled Science is then embellished with the stunning concept of radiocarbon dated groundwater.

Evidently, this Settled Science also “proves” the host aquifer rocks [such as sandstone] and the chemical gradients [such as the fresh/salt water interface] are entirely neutral factors that don’t influence fractional distillation.

http://web.archive.org/web/20030723113049/http://geosys.bg.tu-berlin.de/archiv/downloads/NAS_syn.pdf

On the other hand:

A nuanced Settled Science suggests some deep groundwater is a non-renewable resource.

This is an important distinction as the groundwater in the Nubian Aquifer System is said to be flowing Northwards towards the Nile and the Qattara Depression [133 metres below sea level].

The Western Desert
The hydrogeological framework of the Western Desert encompasses three principal deep aquifer systems:

the lower Miocene Moghra sandy aquifer,
the Tertiary / Upper Cretaceous fissured carbonate aquifer, and
the Mesozoic / Paleozoic Nubia Sandstone aquifer

The deep groundwater in these aquifer systems is considered a non-renewable resource except the part of the Moghra aquifer at the desert fringes of the delta region which receives recharge from the adjacent Nile delta aquifer.

The Nubia Sandstone aquifer in the Western Desert is considered to have the greatest resource development potential it contains large volumes of fresh groundwater (<1000 ppm) in storage (200 000 bcm).

The aquifer development plans should be considered as a mining process with continuous lowering of the aquifer potentiometric levels.

The Nubia Sandstone sequence is outcropping in the southwestern part of the Western Desert, where it behaves as an unconfined aquifer, while northwards, it disappears under a thick low permeability cover and functions as a confined to semi-confined aquifer.

The Nubia Sandstone aquifer transmissivity ranges between 240 m2/d in Toshka basin area and 17000 m2/d in El-Bahariya Oasis.

The potentiometry of the Nubia Sandstone aquifer indicates a regional NE-N groundwater flow towards the aquifer base level at the Qattara-Siwa-Giaghboub depression area where groundwater at a rate of 90 mcm/year is naturally lost.

The groundwater of Nubia Sandstone aquifer is fresh (< 1000 ppm) in the southern and central parts of the Western Desert, while to the north of 29° N latitude saline to hyper-saline groundwater saturates the lower most part of the aquifer which increases in thickness northward to be completely saline water bearing at the fresh/salt water interface.

Groundwater isotope measurements indicate that the groundwater in the Nubia Sandstone aquifer was formed during several successive humid periods which prevailed over the desert, the last of which was 8,000 years ago.

Therefore, the groundwater in the Nubia aquifer is considered to be a non-renewable resource.

Hydrogeology of Deep Aquifers in the Western Desert and Sinai
Water Policy Reform Program – International Resources Group –
Winrock International – Nile Consultants – August 1998
US Agency for International Development – Ministry of Public Works of Egypt

http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNACF474.pdf

The Qattara Depression is a depression in the north west of Egypt in the Matruh Governorate and is part of the Western Desert.

It lies below sea level and is covered with salt pans, sand dunes and salt marshes.

The region extends between latitudes of 28°35′ and 30°25′ north and longitudes of 26°20′ and 29°02′ east. The region was created by the interplay of salt weathering and wind erosion.

Some kilometres west of the depression lie the oases of Siwa and Jaghbub in smaller but similar depressions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qattara_Depression

Logically, there are no long term sustainable development options for non-renewable groundwater resources that are slowly draining away.

Baharia Oasis is a large natural excavation in the Libyan Desert plateau.

Baharia differing from the southern oases in being entirely surrounded by an escarpment, for the most part steep and difficult of ascent.

The average depth from the general desert plateau-level to the floor of the excavation is rather less than a hundred metres.

In and near the villages springs are extremely numerous; the water is met with at shallow depths, and does not require, as in Kharga and Dakhla, deep-bored wells.

The water is slightly ferruginous, and frequently warm, bubbles of carbon dioxide rising with it.

At Bawitti, the largest spring is cold, but one close by it is warm, although none approach the high temperature of the Dakhla wells. One of the principal sources of water in Mandisha, is a well, situated near the cemetery, 7 metres deep and timbered with palm trunks; the temperature of the water is 26°C. (air 12°C.), and when freshly drawn it is turbid with bubbles of carbon dioxide.

The Roman structures in the oasis differ generally from those of the Egyptian era in being built of crude brick instead of stone.

They show, however, a great solidity of construction; for this reason these erections of the Romans have in many cases outlasted those of the Coptic period which were built long afterwards ; in Baharia the old Roman underground aqueducts still serve for the conveyance of water from the springs to the irrigated tracts, and the present inhabitants are far too indolent to construct similar channels for themselves.

In the neighbourhood of Bawitti especially, long series of shafts sunk in the sandstones and clays which form the ground, are frequently to be seen. These shafts, which vary from 1 to 3 metres in diameter, are sometimes round, sometimes rectangular, and are placed at only short distances apart. They are connected below with long tunnels, along which flows the water from the springs.

The largest aqueduct found by Cailliaud is south-west of El Qasr ; its size is such that a man is able to walk in it. This tunnel, which now contains no water, leads from an excavation 5 metres in diameter by 8 metres deep, and in a length of 55 metres it is entered by ten shafts. In the same neighbourhood Cailliaud counted more than thirty other aqueducts, mostly coming from the south, like those of Mandisha. Four of these discharge . their water into a huge excavation 70 metres diameter and 12 metres deep. The only example of an underground aqueduct at present known to exist in the south part of the oasis is one discovered by Ascherson a few kilometres east of Ain el Haiss ; it is at present dry.

Baharia Oasis : Its Topography and Geology – 1903
John Ball and Hugh John Llewellyn Beadnell

https://archive.org/stream/bahariaoasisits00misgoog#page/n11/mode/1up

However, it’s important to note, these versions of Settled Science exclude the possibility that groundwater resources might originate from [and be recharged from] below the aquifer.

The origin of water on Earth, or the reason that there is clearly more liquid water on Earth than on the other rocky planets of the Solar System, is not completely understood.

Gradual “dehydration melting” – leakage of water stored in hydrate minerals of Earth’s rocks – could have formed a portion of its water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_water_on_Earth

Either way, the historical pattern of human occupation in the Western Desert suggests settlements descended to lower levels as the surface water drained [and evaporated] away.

The draining and dessication of the Western Desert changed the Egyptian climate.

The steady decline in rainfall is reflected in the playa deposits of Gilf Kebir.

The most palaeoclimatologically significant playa deposits in the Gilf Kebir are exposed in an erosional breach in the upper section of Wadi Bakht.

They are exposed over an area of at least 65,000 m2 and have a maximum thickness of more than 8 m.

The deposits are composed of thin alternating layers of siliceous mud and partly cemented sands that indicate water pools fed exclusively by local rainfall and run-off.

These rain pools or playa lakes were ephemeral lakes that contained water for weeks or months at most.

Wadi Bakht Revisited: Holocene Climate Change and Prehistoric Occupation in the Gilf Kebir Region of the Eastern Sahara, SW Egypt
Jörg Linstädter and Stefan Kröpelin
Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 19, No. 8, 753–778 – 2004

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.497.3159&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Gilf Kebir Plateau lies in the heart of the eastern part of the vast Sahara Desert, and, thus, gets some of the most extreme climates on Earth.

This is the driest place on the planet, not only because the area is totally rainless (the annual average rainfall amount hardly reaches 0.1 mm) but also because the geological aridity index/dryness ratio is over 200, which means that the solar energy received at the ground evaporate 200 times the amount of precipitation received.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilf_Kebir

The playa deposits of Gilf Kebir have been radiocarbon dated.

A sample from a pelitic layer 5 cm below the top would have provided a date for the last sedimentation event, but yielded no result due to lack of sufficient carbon.

Therefore, the definite end of the accumulation phase must remain at about 4800 yr B.P./3300 yr B.C.

Wadi Bakht Revisited: Holocene Climate Change and Prehistoric Occupation in the Gilf Kebir Region of the Eastern Sahara, SW Egypt
Jörg Linstädter and Stefan Kröpelin
Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 19, No. 8, 753–778 (2004)

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.497.3159&rep=rep1&type=pdf

The data suggests the playa deposits were still accumulating early in the 1st millennium CE.

More significantly:

The data suggests the sampled playa deposits were transformed into an exposed “erosional breach” at [or after] the The Arabian Horizon in the 1st millennium CE.

The most palaeoclimatologically significant playa deposits in the Gilf Kebir are exposed in an erosional breach in the upper section of Wadi Bakht.

It is clear that the earliest playa sediments must have been deposited in the deepest center part of the playa basin.

Therefore, they are not exposed in the natural outcrop which is situated at the marginal, down-valley side several tens of meters from the presumed center.

Wadi Bakht Revisited: Holocene Climate Change and Prehistoric Occupation in the Gilf Kebir Region of the Eastern Sahara, SW Egypt
Jörg Linstädter and Stefan Kröpelin
Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 19, No. 8, 753–778 (2004)

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.497.3159&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Related posts: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/category/arabian-horizon/

Overall, in the Promised Land of Settled Science it’s advisable to carefully examine the evidence, think laterally and be prepared to look in the opposite direction.

For example:

Academia states Upper and Lower Egypt reflected a North/South divide.

Ancient Egypt was divided into two regions, namely Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.

To the north was Lower Egypt, where the Nile stretched out with its several branches to form the Nile Delta.

To the south was Upper Egypt, stretching to Syene.

The terminology “Upper” and “Lower” derives from the flow of the Nile from the highlands of East Africa northwards to the Mediterranean Sea.

The two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united c. 3000 BC, but each maintained its own regalia: the hedjet or White Crown for Upper Egypt and the deshret or Red Crown for Lower Egypt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_and_Lower_Egypt

Looking in the opposite direction suggests Upper and Lower Egypt reflected a divide between the Eastern Highlands and the once wet and watery Western Lowlands.

Either way:

Readers are encouraged, as always, to examine the evidence for themselves.

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7 Responses to Enigmatic Egypt: The Promised Land

  1. Tim,
    Excellent summary.

    The Gilf Kebir Plateau is a vast sandstone layer 300m above the Libyan desert floor. It’s surface would be the remnant previous land surface before erosion to form the vast mesa-like feature. The cliffs are host to abundant rock paintings depicting a more vibrant and wetter past climate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilf_Kebir. Assume a stalled position along with headache.

    Ups and downs topographically are inferred from the rocks. Aqueous sediments standing proud above the deserts are interpreted to have been formerly seas in order for the sands etc to accumulate. So we have the problem of engineering vast expanses of crust that once was under water and now is out of the water. Given the Gilf Kebir Plateau is rather large in area, just how is this upsy-downsy mechanism working?

    Or the so called sediments are not formed by the gradual deposition of sandstone (a fantastic mechanism in its own right) in a marine environment, but deposited on the exposed land surface via a plasma mechanism exhibiting fluid behaviour (magnetohydrodynamic deposits, to coin a neologism). Magnetohydronamics are implausible for chalk deposits, another problem of downsy-upsies.

    Or the Plateau is an upland formed by local earth expansion, a model based on the Ollier-Paine scheme. I would mean the plateau itself is older than the rocks exposed on the Libyan desert, or the Plateau is a remnant from an earlier erosive event. And how the biosphere could survive that is another massive problem.

    And what’s the provenance of the rock paintings? Painted contemporaneously with the wetter climate or painted afterwards post catastrophe by humans with an abundance of spare time on their hands.

    There are too many academics under the influence of blue pills.

  2. Martin Sieff says:

    The oral traditions of the peoples of the Sahara are very explicit – That most of what is now the great desert was a major inland sea comparable in size with today’s Mediterranean but that it was destroyed or disappeared at a time well into the human memory but far earlier than the Prophet or any “Arabian Horizon.”

    The Sahara appears to have already been in its current form when Cambyses sent an army into it that vanished without trace around 525 BC on conventional dating.

    No Roman records indicate that the Sahara was anything other than a trackless wilderness at the time Scipio Africanus conquered Carthage or Caius Marius fought Jugurtha in Numidia (modern Algeria).

    The reference to liquid water being uniquely abundant on earth is already ludicrously out of date even in Settled Science. At least nine major liquid water oceans exist beneath the surface of other Solar System planets as NASA now acknowledges.

    https://singularityhub.com/2015/04/10/our-solar-systems-9-extraterrestrial-oceans-in-one-surprising-infographic/#sm.00009r3hgdy2zdylxro1bklj1gibi

    How could this happen? The only credible physical mechanism is Velikovsky’s Saturn Nova hypothesis that also doubled the volume of the Earth’s surface oceans within human memory, but thousands of years before any events that began or ended the Dark Ages.

    • Damian says:

      “The reference to liquid water being uniquely abundant on earth is already ludicrously out of date even in Settled Science. At least nine major liquid water oceans exist beneath the surface of other Solar System planets as NASA now acknowledges.”

      These sub surface oceans are inferred from surface features. They almost certainly do not exist.
      Titan is the only other location we have evidence of liquid and it isn’t water.

      • Martin Sieff says:

        That is simply not true.

        Geysers of liquid water regularly erupt from Saturn’s moon Enceladus as discovered by the Galileo probe in 2005, were thoroughly analyzed by Galileo in 2008 and the underwater liquid water ocean was confirmed by gravimetric analysis in 2015 to be global in nature.

        You could have looked this up in seconds on Wikipedia, sir.

  3. I said it would get interesting. But first something about the video. There usually always is some snippet that is found interesting. Apart from the P de Menocal corroborative 5500yr event (more later), at 03:30 there may be an answer to the chalk deposits. Marine mammal and tree roots fossils indicate shallow marine environment that may have seen repeated partial desiccation. Carbonates, as I learn, are the first to precipitate. Just a thought; but my interest is in another aspect.

    I had been poring over papers on micro-plate tectonic rotations about a vertical axis in the central Med. All papers seen repeat same for Iblean micro-plate; ie CCW rotation, ~5Ma ago. I find CW rotation at 7200 and 5200BP (3200bce). Various proxies indicate global events for both dates. In between are obliquity changes at 4375 -lo>hi; and 3550 hi>lo; beyond the JN Stockwell calc. All have traces that appear clearly in proxies. The paper re Wadi Bakht, Gilf Kebir has a termination point at 3300bce. The changes were seismic, global and drastic. The paper in fig 4 shows onset to changed environment at 5405BP. (Dates I am wary about; the 6200 +/- 1000 overlaps the 6080+/- 480, however as indications they suffice). That material is further corroboration. Changes were all abrupt. The de Menocal date also agrees (within limits), plus that it was abrupt. There have been no gradual processes in the Holocene Max.

    Post 3200bce there was another tilt change Lo>hi. That was first dated by Dodwell. Another blog site I visit pointed out bronze age findings.
    Link: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1230091/saudi-arabia
    The interesting aspect there was the lave flows, and their date; 4500BP, roughly Dodwell’s date.

    The below was posted for linking from another blog site. You may find it interesting.

  4. Pingback: Enigmatic Egypt: Roman Ruination – Desert | MalagaBay

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